An interview and personal sharing with Raymond Pythias, Lodge 10 Manager
Port Moresby, PNG, 27 September 2018 -- Salesian Past-pupil Raymond Pythias was born on 29January 1978. He attended Don Bosco Technical School, Gabutu (1991-94), and completed a technical course in carpentry. He hails from Bougainville, Manus and the Gulf province. He shares his story and the impact that the Salesian spirituality and system has had on his life.
Raymond has a loving wife and four beautiful daughters. Trust is the hallmark of his relationship. He owes this to his Catholic Faith and the values he has learnt at church and at school, which he puts into practice. “Our relationship is based on total commitment and we do not have the tension of spying over what the other does,” said Raymond as he commented on his marriage. “There is a lot of understanding, support and encouragement in our marriage,,says Raymond with pride.
Growing up was not easy. Ken Pythias, his father, an entrepreneur, ran a very successful business. However, he died in a fatal car accident due to alcohol consumption. Raymond was just seven years old and in Grade 2. The death of his father took a heavy toll on him, his brother and his mother. Raymond confesses that he drank a lot while he was young. However, realizing that it was not to the advantage of himself or his family, he gave up drinking and has not touched a drop of alcohol since 2010. “It has saved me and my family a lot of unnecessary turmoil,” he said.
His mother, a single parent, had to sell their house to pay for their school fees. Later, she remarried a very loving man, Jack Sion, who was a journalist by profession. He cared for and supported all of them. His work took him to different locations and the family moved from place to place until they ended up at their grandfather’s place in Kaugere, a notorious village close to Don Bosco Technical School, Gabutu.
Recalling his time at Don Bosco, Raymond highlights the values he learned while at the institution. He said, “We were taught and did things that we never learnt before. It showed us a way to live and it taught us commitment. Discipline and time-management were important elements. Obedience to the Salesians, instructors and teachers was stressed.”
“Don Bosco gave us a second chance. 85% of the students were out of government schools as we did not score the required marks. This was my chance, if not, my life would be messed up,” said Raymond. He remembers fondly the words of Fr Felix Furlan sdb, ‘Look, this will get you through’. It made a deep impression on him.
After having completed his studies at Don Bosco, Raymond received a scholarship to study in Australia. He chose to study food technology. Uppermost in his mind was the lack of food in the community. “I wanted to learn how to cook good and nourishing meals,” said Raymond. After having spent several years working at hotels in Brisbane he returned to Papua New Guinea to train and mentor others and give back to his country his knowledge and skills. He then studied management and worked in different capacities and as the Warehouse and Logistics Manager at Paradise Foods for five years.
Today, he is the manager at Lodge 10 and deals with the refugees who were once stationed at Manus Island and are awaiting their entry into the United States of America. “So far, 118 have left for America. There are 83 at present at the hotel,” says Raymond proudly. Every day, he spends at least 5 to 10 minutes with each of them. He listens to their stories and asks about their home and family. “They have undergone a lot of pain and hardship. I try to make their lives as comfortable as possible,” he said.
God plays a major role in his life and he acknowledges that everything comes from God. “My time at Don Bosco has been enlightening. The lives of Don Bosco, Dominic Savio and the saints have motivated and inspired me. The Saleisans have always encouraged me to reach out and help others. Our values and religious classes motivated me at an early age. As I grow older, I ask the Lord for strength to reach out to people who are in need of help or guidance,” said Raymond.